Safety tips for Sri Lanka
The good news is that Sri Lanka is a very safe place to travel, and violent crime against foreigners is unheard. The only bad news is that scams, con-artist and aggressive bragging are widespread in a various places.
If you are getting the services of a tout for accommodation, travel, etc. they will most likely increase the price plus give you a bad experience.
First time travelers to Sri Lanka may become the victims of scams like:
- Do not believe anyone who claims to be a professional (e.g. airline pilot), or in charge of a location (like a bus terminal) without proof. Most terminals do their best to scare or move these people on.
- Scams involving gemstones. Do not buy with the intention of selling them in your home country for a profit. They are usually fakes.
- Be aware for anybody trying to help you by giving you directions or travel advice. Any advice from taxi and auto drivers might be plan of the scam especially if they tell you the place you want to go to is closed or dangerous. If you are unsure, check the map app on your phone.
- If you have been told your hotel is closed or full, call them first. I
- if you are a In Sri Lanka for the first time don't say it loud, it as it will make you a target for the con-artists.
- Con-artists most frequent on the Galle Face Road area surrounding the tourist spots in Galle Face Hotel and the Holiday Inn.
- Be aware when you arrive at Colombo International Airport of being overcharged for the Sri Lankan visa. Do your research before leaving home.
- Be careful whenever you use a credit card - you can be overcharged or they may duplicate your card information. Never let the machine or card out of your sight.
- Don’t book any tours or adventure, through a taxi driver or a tuk-tuk driver as they will take commission off the top and the quality is likely to be lower.
- Always negotiate and agree on a price before you travel, especially if the price is for multiple people.
- When catching a bus, only buy from official ticket sellers at the window at the bus/train station.
- Don’t let anyone carry your bags for you.
- On transport, be aware of pickpockets. Don’t keep your wallet or phone in your back pocket.
Health and medicine
- Most of the secondary hospitals usually operating with a lack staff and poor service quality.
- In private hospitals medical care is still cheap by Western standards and the quality is high.
- Medications you would need to take at home may not be available in Sri Lanka, so pack it all with you
The recommended vaccinations for Sri Lanka are
- Hepatitis A
Typhoid (if your trip is longer than a week or planning to head to rural locations)
Japanese Encephalitis (if you plan to spend a month or longer in the country, particularly traveling outside the cities)
Rabies (For those planning to do adventure activities outside of the cities, potential interactions with animals or children)
Precautions for diarrhea
- Drink only treated or boiled water. Even avoid it when brushing your teeth.
- Visit cafes, restaurants and street shops who are busy, have many costumers and look clean
- Making sure your food is cooked properly
Wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them
Avoiding ice cubes especially if traveling in areas outside the main tourist zone
- good hygiene
- Make sure you have anti-diarrhea medication in your first aid kit.
If you are entering Sri Lanka from the country which has Yellow Fever or Cholera, you will need to present your vaccination passport
- Most alarming source of danger in Sri Lanka is the traffic.
Take extra care when walking near busy roads and buses.
Drowning is the second most common cause of death among tourists in Sri Lanka. Currents can be strong. Conditions can change drastically even with a few hundred meters, so don’t think that just because lots of people are at one end of the beach, the other end will be safe.
- Also don’t forget about the crocodiles!
But remember - don't become too paranoid about these characters and situations,
Sri Lanka is wonderful country with beautiful people!
The majority of Sri Lankans who approach you will be honest, humble and simply willing to have a chat – or at least find out which country you are from.
Just look out for the classic scams and, if you suspect that you are being set up,
simply withdraw politely but firmly from the situation.
DON’T FORGET TO RELAX AND ENJOY